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A cherry lip, a passing pleasing tongue ;
BRAKENBURY. With this, my lord, myself have naught to do.
GLOUCESTER. What, fellow, naught to do with mistress Shore ?
BRAKENBURY. What one, my lord ?
The feigned reconciliation of Gloucester with the queen's kinsmen is also a master-piece. One of the finest strokes in the play, and which serves to show as much as anything the deep, plausible manners of Richard, is the unsuspecting security of Hastings, at the very time when the former is plotting his death, and when that very appearance of cordiality and good humor on which Hastings builds his confidence arises from Richard's consciousness of having betrayed him to his ruin. This, with the whole character of Hastings, is omitted.
Perhaps the two most beautiful passages in the original play are the farewell apostrophe of the queen to the Tower, where her children are shut up from her, and Tyrrel's description of their death. We will finish our quotations with them.
“QUEEN. Stay, yet look back with me unto the Tower;
The other passage is the account of their death by Tyrrel :
“ Dighton and Forrest, whom I did suborn
Which once, quoth Forrest, almost changed my mind,
That from the prime creation e'er she framed." These are some of those wonderful bursts of feeling, done to the life, to the very height of fancy and nature, which our Shakspeare alone could give. We do not insist on the repetition of these last passages as proper for the stage: we should indeed be loth to trust them in the mouth of almost any actor: but we should wish them to be retained in preference at least to the fantoccini exhibition of the young princes, Edward and York, bandying childish wit with their uncle.
The introduction of the ghosts through the trap.doors of the stage should be altogether omitted. The speeches which they address to Richard might be delivered just as well from behind the scenes. These sort of exhibitions might have been very proper for a superstitious age, but in an age not superstitious they excite ridicule instead of terror.
This play contains little action or violence of passion, yet it has considerable interest of a more mild and thoughtful cast, and some of the most striking passages in the author's works. The character of Queen Katherine is the most perfect delineation of matronly dignity, sweetness, and resignation, that can be conceived. Her appeals to the protection of the king, her remonstrances to the cardinals, her conversations with her women, show a noble and generous spirit accompanied with the utmost gentleness of nature. What can be more affecting than her answer to Campeius and Wolsey, who come to visit her as pretended friends?
-“ Nay, forsooth, my friends,
Dr. Johnson observes of this play, that “the meek sorrows and yirtuous distresses of Katherine have furnished some scenes, which may be justly numbered among the greatest efforts of tragedy. But the genius of Shakspeare comes in and goes out with Katherine. Every other part may be easily conceived and easily written.” This is easily said ; but with all due deference to so great a reputed authority as that of Johnson, it is not true. For instance, the scene of Buckingham led to execution is one of the most affecting and natural in Shakspeare, and one to which there is hardly an approach in any other author. Again, the character of Wolsey, the description of his pride and of his fall, are inimitable, and have, besides their gorgeousness of
effect, a pathos, which only the genius of Shakspeare could lend to the distresses of a proud, bad man, like Wolsey. There is a sort of child-like simplicity in the very helplessness of his situa. tion, arising from the recollection of his past overbearing ambi. tion. After the cutting sarcasms of his enemies, on his disgrace, against which he bears up with a spirit conscious of his own superiority, he breaks out into that fine apostrophe
“ Farewell, a long farewell, to all my greatness !
There is in this passage, as well as in the well-known din. logue with Cromwell which follows, something which stretches beyond common-place ; nor is the account which Gritfiets gives of Wolsey's death less Shakspearian; and the candor with which Queen Katherine listens to the praise of " him whom of all men while living she hated most” adds the last graceful finishing to her character.
Among other images of great individual beauty might be mentioned the description of the etirct of Ann Buleyn's present. ing horself to the crowd at her coronation.
“While her grace sat down
The character of Henry VIII. is drawn with great truth and spirit. It is like a very disagreeable portrait, sketched by the hand of a master. His gross appearance, his blustering demeanor, his vulgarity, his arrogance, his sensuality, his cruelty, his hypocrisy, his want of common decency and common humanity, are marked in strong lines. His traditional peculiarities of expression complete the reality of the picture. The authoritative expletive, “Ha!" with which he intimates his indignation or surprise, has an effect like the first startling sound that breaks from a thunder-cloud. He is of all the monarchs in our history the most disgusting: for he unites in himself all the vices of barbarism and refinement, without their virtues. Other kings before him (such as Richard III.) were tyrants and murderers out of ambition or necessity : they gained or established unjust power by violent means : they destroyed their enemies, or those who barred their access to the throne or made its tenure insecure. But Henry VIII.'s power is most fatal to those whom he loves : he is cruel and remorseless to pamper his luxurious appetites; bloody and voluptuous; an amorous murderer; an uxorious debauchee. His hardened insensibility to the feelings of others is strengthened by the most profligate self-indulgence. The religious hypocrisy, under which he masks his cruelty and his lust, is admirably displayed in the speech in which he describes the first misgivings of his con. science and its increasing throes and terrors, which have in. duced him to divorce his queen. The only thing in his favor in this play is his treatment of Cranmer: there is also another circumstance in his favor, which is his patronage of Hans Hol. bein.-It has been said of Shakspeare—“No maid could live